Frequently Asked Questions:
- Who or what is a voluntaryist?
- Why might I want to be one?
- Isn’t our society already a voluntary one? What is your opinion of Social Contract theory?
- Do you favor capitalism? Socialism? Something Else?
- Where in the world are the Ozarks?
- Is there a way I can support your site?
Voluntaryism is the doctrine that relations among people should be by mutual consent, or not at all. It represents a means, an end, and an insight. Voluntaryism does not argue for the specific form that voluntary arrangements will take; only that force be abandoned so that individuals in society may flourish.
People could prefer or practice a voluntaryist or libertarian philosophy for a lot of reasons, and we probably all have our own unique motivations. An aversion to the use of force and/or violence, particularly offensive force or initiatory force, as contrasted with defensive force, probably factors into it in some way. Or, more positively, we value peace, consent, reciprocity, and things like that.
To the first question, no. The society we live in presently fails to respect the consent of its members in a number of ways, and the institution of government is one major manifestation of this.
Social Contract theory, at least as a justification for political authority, suffers from flaws which we think the theory’s defenders can not overcome.
We can state a simplified version of Social Contract theory in the following way: The people ruled by governments today, such as U.S. citizens, require their government’s permission to live in, and be present in, the government’s territory. They understand that the government only grants them this permission if they agree to be bound by the Social Contract, i.e. to obey the government’s edicts and be subject to coercion if they disobey. Further, the government benefits them in various ways, and they participate in the system through voting and other actions. These choices, to reside in the government’s territory, to accept benefits from the government, and to participate in the system, qualify as consent to be governed.
We can state a simplified refutation of this simplified description of Social Contract theory in the following manner: First, we know of no reason why we should require the permission of the government to live in the area they claim to be their territory, and so we deny that living in our homes and failing to renounce our citizenship and leave upon turning 18 counts as consent to anything at all. Second, renouncing one’s citizenship and relocating outside of the physical region ruled by government is the only course of action that, if taken, counts as opting out of the Social Contract in the eyes of the government. Refusing to accept benefits from the government, (when possible,) and refusing to participate will not exempt one from the government’s rule. But if one is ruled by government regardless of whether one accepts benefits or participates or not, then acceptance of benefits and participation can no longer qualify as consent to be ruled, they are made irrelevant to the question of consent.
We encourage interested readers to read more about the philosophy of political obligations and political authority in order to gain a better understanding of these questions than our brief summary can provide. Resources for further reading include Michael Huemer’s book The Problem of Political Authority, Danny Frederick’s essay Social Contract Theory Should Be Abandoned, and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on Political Obligation.
A poll of members of our facebook group seemed to indicate that many of us, perhaps most, identify as “anarcho-capitalists”, while a minority identified as neither “capitalists” nor “socialists”. So, our group does have a pro-“capitalist” bent. We’re open, however, to any peace and liberty loving people who want to join in with our discussions, and we welcome allies of different persuasions, including self-identified “socialists” or “mutualists”.
If you identify as an anarchist, but consider anarchism to be inherently anticapitalistic, and you feel you would do better as part of some other group, we understand. You may want to check out the AnarchismOnline and Mutualism communities on reddit. Either way, we wish you well!
Crazy ol’ Northwest Arkansas, presently under the unfortunate dominion of the United States government. But we’ll keep the fire of freedom going for those who need it.
Yes. Participation on our forum or in the comments section of our blog is welcomed and greatly encouraged and appreciated, and if you can make it to some of our occasional in-person meetups, you’re welcome there too.
If you want to support us financially, you can purchase books or other products through Amazon via our affiliate links, which we sometimes include in book reviews on our blog. Speaking of which, this seems as good a place as any to place the disclaimer Amazon requires to be displayed on sites participating in their affiliate program:
“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
On another note, you can help support us, and society more generally, by opposing any laws that the State of Arkansas, or other governments, want to pass which might lead Amazon to shut down their affiliate program in those States. Stranger things have happened.